BOSTON CELTICS (14-13)
at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (22-6)
Tip-off: Thursday, 10:35 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -8.5, Total: 190
The Clippers are looking to extend their franchise’s record winning streak to 15 when they face the Celtics on Thursday evening.
Los Angeles is as hot as a team can be right now. Vinny Del Negro and his team have won 14 straight games while increasing their season point differential to a league-best +9.7 PPG. Both the Clippers and the Celtics have covered in two of their last three games. Boston SG Leandro Barbosa is questionable for this game as he is dealing with personal issues.
Can the red-hot Clippers cover this big number? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts have sizzled since Saturday with a collective 17-6 ATS (74%) mark, including a perfect 7-0 ATS record from StatFox Dave, while StatFox Brian is on a 4-0 ATS run since Sunday. The experts are 64% ATS (27-15) since Dec. 19 and are 53% ATS (171-155-10) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Gary is 55% ATS (33-27-3) Best Bets for the year, while Brian is at 53% ATS (43-38-3) after going 11-5 ATS (69%) since Dec. 14, and StatFox Scott is also at 53% ATS (37-33). For NBA Totals, Scott is 42-28 (60%) for the season.
The Celtics are coming off of a 93-76 blowout victory over the Nets on Christmas Day in which Boston controlled the game from the opening tip. PG Rajon Rondo failed to record double-digit assists in the game, but he did score 19 points and steal the ball three times while shutting down Nets PG Deron Williams. SF Paul Pierce was off his game, scoring only eight points, but he picked up the slack in the assists column for Rondo as he dished out 10 assists in the win. It’s also worth noting that Pierce scored a combined 75 points in the two games before Christmas. The Celtics will need to start rebounding the ball better if they want to start winning more consistently, as they are averaging only 38.6 RPG, which ranks last in the NBA in that category.
Not only have the Clippers won 14 games in a row, but they have been doing it in impressive fashion. Los Angeles has been blowing teams out and that is why they have the best point differential in the NBA. PG Chris Paul is playing unbelievably on both sides of the ball, averaging 16.0 PPG and 9.5 APG on 48% FG to go along with a league-leading 2.7 SPG. PF Blake Griffin has been shooting lights-out over the past five games, averaging 18.0 PPG during the stretch while shooting 57% FG and 77.3% FT. He is connecting on 54% FG and 63% FT on the season. The Clippers’ success is also due to some of the best bench play in the league. Jamal Crawford is the league’s best scorer off the bench, averaging 16.5 PPG in just 29.3 MPG. Los Angeles has incredible depth and that is without Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups, who are both out indefinitely.